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Athens Great Walk didn’t walk : Municipality gives back to traffic one lane

The Great Walk of Athens did not age well. Six weeks after its implementation that triggered the outrage of thousands of commuters each and every day, at least twice per day, the Athens Municipality decided to give back to traffic one more lane on crucial Panepistimiou Avenue.

A relevant vote took place on Monday upon proposal of the Mayor, Costas Bakoyannis, and with the support of another fraction that had demanded the free lane. The proposal was accepted with 30 votes, and 11 against it.

The so-called “interim measures” of the Great Walk to contain the spread of the coronavirus – as the joint ministerial decision claimed – end on August 21, 2020.

To make the long bureaucratic story short: Two traffic lanes of Panepistimiou Avenue were blocked for pedestrians and bicyclists, vehicles and public transport means had to squeezed in just three lanes on one of the most busy streets in downtown Athens, thus creating endless traffic jams in the whole city center and beyond.

The pedestrians and bicyclists zones were painted, and heavy flower boxes were installed with plants that withered in zero time as the Municipality did not take measures for their maintenance.

Now bicyclists and pedestrians will have to share the same zone and public transport means will use the one that is made free.

It is not clear whether the bus lane will be repainted.

Mayor Bakoyannis said that the lanes increase follows the observation that the traffic load increased by 15% in July 2020 compared to the same month a year earlier.

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